Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ice Cube -- "It Was a Good Day"

We'll probably find ourselves back in the '80s soon enough, but today it's time to mix it up a little. If you don't enjoy reading lyrics that contain profanity and might be mildly offensive to some, please skip this entry. If you do enjoy reading lyrics that are awesomely bad, read on!

Here's the video -- I like it because it is basically just depictions of Ice Cube actually doing all the things that he talks about doing in the song. (The lyrics in the video are from the sanitized radio version.) Then at the very end, it takes a bizarre twist that I do not like. This also may be the only music video in history that ends with "TO BE CONTINUED."

I'm also fairly amused by Wikipedia's hilariously straightforward description of the song: "The song's music video and the lyrics itself tell the story of how Ice Cube has a good day in South Central Los Angeles. Throughout the song he enjoys playing basketball, having sex, smoking marijuana (significantly, the song is 4:20 in length), getting drunk, going to his friend Short Dog's house to watch Yo! MTV Raps and later win at Craps and Bones, eating fast food at 2 A.M., and cruising the streets of South Central undisturbed. He even sees the lights on the Goodyear blimp, which remind him that, 'Ice Cube's a Pimp.'"

Just waking up in the morning gotta thank god / I don't know but today seems kinda odd / No barking from the dog, no smog / And momma cooked a breakfast with no hog

I don't get why having a breakfast "with no hog" qualifies this as a good day. Is Ice Cube Jewish? Does he just not like bacon? Did he just need a rhyme for "smog" and "dog"? Clearly he is not a vegetarian or on a diet, because later in the song he eats at Fatburger.

(Actually, after I wrote this I checked Wikipedia again and apparently Ice Cube is a Muslim, although it's unclear whether he had converted to Islam when this song came out. If this is a faith-based thing, though, does his momma normally cook pork products for breakfast, just to torment him?)

(UPDATE: I just realized that in this very lyric, Ice Cube thanks God ... if he were a Muslim when he wrote this, wouldn't he praise Allah instead? Or maybe he just wrote God into the lyrics to avoid controversy? Or maybe he used it for syllable- or rhyming-related reasons? The mind boggles.)

(UPDATE: One other thing, in the video when he says the line about no hog, there is a frying pan with bacon in it, and the bacon magically transmogrifies into something that looks like scrambled eggs. This doesn't really shed any light on the no-hog mystery, but it's funny. OK, I promise to stop talking about this.)

I got my grub on, but didn't pig out / Finally got a call from a girl I wanna dig out / Hooked it up for later as I hit the door / Thinking will I live, another twenty-four

Urban Dictionary lists two definitions for "dig out": 1) to have sex with and 2) to leave somewhere. I will leave it up to your good judgement to decide which one applies here.

I gotta go cause I got me a drop top / And if I hit the switch, I can make the ass drop

I always assumed this was some kind of sexual metaphor, but based on the music video, I think he is actually talking about his car.

Had to stop at a red light / Looking in my mirror, not a jacker in sight / And everything is alright / I got a beep from Kim and she can fuck all night

No comment on this delightful little quatrain, so it's time for fun facts!
Fun Fact: Ice Cube's real name is O'Shea Jackson.
Fun Fact #2: Ice Cube is a cousin of Del tha Funkee Homosapien, an artist whose music I enjoy in an entirely unironic way. Even if you don't like hip-hop that much, I implore you to check out this album.

Called up the homies and Im askin' y'all / Which park are y'all playin basketball? / Get me on the court and I'm trouble / Last week fucked around and got a triple double / Freaking niggaz every way like M.J. / I can’t believe today was a good day

Ice Cube is the type of person who compiles his own statistics in his head while playing a pickup game. I do not want to play basketball with him.

Drove to the pad and hit the showers / Didn’t even get no static from the cowards / 'Cause just yesterday them fools tried to blast me / Saw the police and they rolled right past me / No flexin', didn’t even look in a nigga’s direction as I ran the intersection

I don't really get this part. Who are "the cowards"? Who tried to blast him? In the video the police roll up right when he says the "cowards" line, but it doesn't seem like he's talking about the police, since he references them two lines later. Is this just a generic term for people who don't like Ice Cube? My favorite interpretation is that there is a gang in South Central that calls themselves "The Cowards."

Went to Short Dog's house, they was watchin' Yo! MTV Raps / What’s the haps on the craps? / Shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em up, shake 'em / Roll em in a circle of niggaz and watch me break em / With the seven, seven-eleven, seven-eleven / Seven even back door little joe

This is probably my least favorite part of the day. Watching MTV and playing craps sounds kind of boring. And re: the final line above, what the hell?

Also, I'm sure you don't care, but Short Dog is a rapper from a group called "Da Lench Mob" that I have never heard of.

I picked up the cash flow / Then we played bones, and I’m yellin' domino / Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A., today was a good day

I have played dominoes a few times and have never heard of yelling "DOMINO!" but apparently it is a thing.

I don't know how this last line is supposed to be punctuated: He could be saying that people he knows got killed, just not in South Central L.A. ... or nobody he knows got killed, and it was a good day in South Central L.A.

Left my nigga's house paid / Picked up a girl been tryin' to fuck since the twelve grade / It's ironic, I had the brew she had the chronic / The Lakers beat the Supersonics

This is where Mr. Cube definitely starts to run off the rails. First of all, this is the third different woman he has mentioned in the song (at least it seems like they're all different people). Are we expected to believe that he makes plans with, and has sex with, all three of them at different points during the day? I mean, I guess he can do whatever he wants during his imaginary "good day," but at least make it a little more plausible.

Also, why is it "ironic" that he had the brew and she had the chronic? Who cares what team the Lakers beat? This verse needs to be rewritten.

I felt on the big fat fanny / Pulled out the jammy, and killed the punanny / And my dick runs deep so deep so deep/ Put her ass to sleep

Um, yeah, so does this one.

Woke her up around one / She didn’t hesitate to call Ice Cube the top gun / Drove her to the pad and I’m coasting / Took another sip of the potion, hit the three-wheel motion

Three-wheel motion: "while driving a low rider, you make a fast turn and your car dips on one side thus having on wheel in the air" (sic)

I was glad everything had worked out / Dropped her ass off and then chirped out / Today was like one of those fly dreams / Didn't even see a berry flashing those high beams

Chirp out: "to bounce, or leave a spot."
Hey there, Urban Dictionary, can you use that in a sentence for me?
"Yo ima chirp out n get my grub on."
OK! Sorry I asked!

Berry flashing those high beams: a police car trying to get a driver to pull over

No helicopter looking for a murder / Two in the morning got the Fatburger

Did Ice Cube commit a murder recently? Does he just not like the sound of helicopters?

Even saw the lights of the Goodyear blimp / And it read "Ice Cube's a pimp"

This might be my favorite line in any song, ever.

Drunk as hell but no throwing up / Halfway home and my pager still blowing up / Today I didn't even have to use my AK / I gotta say it was a good day

I concur!

16 comments:

  1. I was really obsessed with this song and video for a long time. To this day, when I ask my wife if she had a good day, or if she tells me that she did, maybe three times out of five I follow up with "did you have to use your AK?" It's always funny (to me, anyway, which is what counts).

    I also was strangely focused on the whole "no hog" thing (and I loved it when the bacon was magically spirited away by Allah). I think the point is that Ice Cube's mom is one of those old-school Baptist ladies only a generation or so removed from the deep south, where pork is what's for breakfast, and she doesn't care for these kids today, turning their back on Jesus like that troublemaker Cassius Clay, and if O'Shea is going to be living under her roof, he's going to eat what she makes for him. For this attitude I have a certain amount of sympathy. Hey, Ice Cube, if you want total control over what you eat, maybe you should get your own fucking apartment, you know? Or at least make your breakfast.

    I also found it super-classy in the video when he woke up his paramour (the one whose butt he put to sleep) by basically just shoving her in the side of her head. And, like a good boy who went to a lot of school presentations by M.A.D.D. over the years, the fact he cheerfully admits that he drove home drunk scandalized me more than anything else in the song.

    For a long time I actually thought the whole song was supposed to be ironic, because his "good day" actually seemed me to be depressing and pointless, suffused with a certain ennui. But then I decided that Ice Cube just likes playing basketball, smoking weed, fucking, and having his mom cook breakfast for him.

    Anyway, you would probably also find this cartoon amusing.

    http://overcompensating.com/posts/20090215.html

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  2. My only exposure to this song is this post. Nevertheless, I have to say that these lyrics are really not bad at all. They generally make sense, and though the meter seems a bit off to me, I have no ear for poetry. Surely you can find worse lyrics to mock.

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  3. Re: the video, I appreciate how interspersed among the images of the "good day" are shots of Ice Cube rapping in a dark room ... I take this to mean that as soon as he arrived home, he immediately was moved to drop some rhymes about how good his day had been. It's only funnier when you consider that his house is surrounded by a small army of law-enforcement officials at the time.

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  4. I believe the "no hog" thing is a health consideration. There were a number of rappers in the early '90's who would mention about how eating pig is bad for you. Actually, two Native Tounges members, A Tribe Called Quest and Monie Love, made songs largely dedicated to the topic ("Ham N' Eggs" and "Swiney Swiney" respectively). To get an idea of how corny these songs were, "Ham N' Eggs" has the line "I don't eat no ham n' eggs, 'cause they're high in cholesterol" to open the chorus.

    I still don't exactly understand how or why it became such a common theme in rap at the time, particularly since I was very young at the time and haven't developed my musical tastes yet. But yeah, I believe Ice Cube doesn't want to eat hog because he knows it's bad for him, although it would be hard to reconcile that sentiment with the trip to Fatburger.

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  5. Muslims use the word "God", too.

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  6. This was awesome! Thanks for the laughs--honestly, i broke out loud several times.

    My two main issues with this have always been:
    1.) "No Hog"--it always felt like an incomplete breakfast. A good day is toast, eggs, and bacon.
    2.) "even back door'd little Joe" --eh..what? My buddies (we all grew up with Ice Cube and this song too-) have debated me to the point they don't believe that is what he says. Even making fun of me for thinking he is talking about man-sex with a craps player.

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  7. Little Joe is a craps term for rolling a four. I guess back door means that he rolled it after it was established as the point.

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  8. "Plus nobody I know got killed in South Central L.A., today was a good day"

    This is actually one of the most beautiful and profound lyrics of the song, I think. Surprised to see someone hate on it.

    The meaning is pretty clear: South Central LA was and is a very dangerous place, with police and gang violence taking the lives of many, many people over many years. Ice Cube is celebrating this somewhat average day as being a good day precisely because nobody he knew was killed. It's commentary on how many bad days there are - how many days there are when someone he knows is killed in South Central LA.

    The lyric about the helicopter is the same.

    The genius of this song is that it's simultaneously about how the little things can make a day a good day, and how even the most basic of things (not having your friends killed) can't be taken for granted if you're living in the ghetto.

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  9. "No hog" actually refers to his mother not hogging all the breakfast.
    This is seen in the movie Friday with his in character mother cooking up all these good things for breakfast later on leading to her saying "It wasn't fo you.."

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  11. BLB...Would you kindly kill yourself please? So the lyrics of this song are awesomely bad simply because you only understand about two lines of it. I mean, you can't possibly be this inept. Again, please kill yourself. Thanks!!!

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  12. back door little joe refers to hitting a four and rolling it out of the back of your hand. Normally in a ghetto craps game you swing your arm back and forth releasing the dice like bowling while in a crouched position. Back door I believe refers to rolling the dice out the back side of your hand so they are coming out the back of your hand singifying the "back door".

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  13. Back door little Joe = Rolling a 4-4-4 in a game of Cee-lo.
    Cee-lo= a craps like game played in the ghetto played with 3 dice.

    If you roll a trips…. 3 of a kind then you can only be beat by your opponents rolling 3 of a kind of a higher number or 4-5-6.

    Rolling back door = BACK HANDED has nothing to do with homosexuality you idiots!

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  14. Funny this song made perfect sense to me and I'm not even from the hood. I guess its easy to mock what we don't understand.

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  15. this was a bad post, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know even the basics about South Central L.A. and you've gone and done the impossible by misinterpreting every single line in this song ahahah

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  16. walkin to the Shule up the blocks and Mama made bagels with no lox. OK I always try to make it Jewish. like "even when you wuz a mah jong fiend you always was my J@P Queen!"

    Actually this tune is the other side of the coin from the very old school "The Message" by the Furious Five of the East coast (South Bronx) A Good Day is doin with yer Hoochie(s) and not getting whacked. "I might live another twenty four" Not GREAT but not a bad song either from the former NWA playa. (and that does NOT stand for a major carrier before it merged with Delta LOL) "Mind PLaying Tricks" and "Reminisce" are the deepest most Shakespearean of the Golden Age Rap jams

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